The dark side of methods: An exploration of the negative effects of method use and method reflection in design

Björgvin Hjartarson*, Jaap Daalhuizen, Karoline Fogh Gustafsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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The proper use of methods is increasingly important as design challenges are more complex and involve more stakeholders. Such work also demands high reflective ability from designers. Reflective thought processes do not necessary produce positive outcomes for the process and the individual involved. Positive reflection is goal oriented while negative reflection is typically self-oriented. In design education, reflection by students is often treated as rather trivial or only rudimentary support is offered. Research in cognitive science shows that poor reflection can hurt students’ well-being, abilities and confidence over time. Thus, there is a need to better understand method use and reflection in design education more specifically when done poorly. We take a theory-building approach and interviewed 12 design students and recent graduates and investigated instances of method use where these led to negative experiences and effects. In doing so, we show different types of negative experiences that students have when using methods, the effects that these experiences have and how they relate to problematic use of methods and poor reflection practices. We end with implications for design education and design research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Proceedings of the Design Society : ICED21
Number of pages10
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED21) - Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


Conference23rd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED21)
LocationChalmers University of Technology
SeriesProceedings of the Design Society


  • Design methods
  • Design education
  • Reflective practice
  • Reflective ability
  • Case study


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